<<  Great Ocean Road, 16-May-2013  >>

1st road trip in Australia

Roadtrip on Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Cliffs, kenguroos, koalas, parrots, emus... and after few days even Jesus joined me!

Road trip. 5 days, more than 900km. I was driving the camper van, sleeping in the camper van, cooking in the camper van. Camper van life. Love it! Feels great to be out of the city!

The weather pretty much sucked, winter is coming (hello Game of Throne freaks…) and it means a LOT of rain here at the southernmost point of Australia. First day I (again) passed through Torquay and Bells Beach, where the Great Ocean Road (built as a memorial to WWI soldiers; strange memorial, but very useful and beautiful one…) begins and then drove along the coast stopping to take in the views over the majestic coast, battered by bad ass waves fired upon Australia from Antarctica. It’s too cold for swimming by now so I did not, but the vistas were fantastic. On the first day weather was not fantastic, but, well, acceptable. At night I slept at a parking lot close to some waterfalls, right in front of “No sleeping in vehicles” sign. But it was Sunday night, raining like hell, and it was in middle of forest far away from nearest civilization so I hoped that the police had better things to do than come over here on such a rainy Sunday night. And they didn’t come. No one did. Except for few kangaroos jumping along the road. Yes, I saw my first real, wild kangaroos!

On day two the weather was OK long enough to allow me to spot koalas for the first time, they were hugging trees at Kennet River. So within first few days in Australia I already saw wild echidna, koalas and kangaroos. I’m more than satisfied so far, wildlife is very abundant here.
When saw the koalas, I smoked a beedee right under the eucalyptus tree (gum tree) , because I always thought that beedee is tobacco wrapped in eucalyptus leaf. But then I read this interesting thing about koalas in Lonely Planet:

Marsupials are so energy-efficient that they need to eat one-fifth less food than equivalent-sized placental mammals. But some marsupials have taken energy efficiency much further. If you visit a wildlife park or zoo you might notice that faraway look in a koala’s eyes. It seems as if nobody is home - and this in fact is near the truth. Several years ago biologists announced that koalas are the only living creatures that have brains that don’t fit their skulls. Instead they have a shriveled walnut of a brain that rattles around in a fluid-filled cranium. Other researchers have contested this finding, however, pointing out that the brains of the koalas examined for the study may have shrunk because these organs are so soft. Whether soft-brained or empty-headed, there is no doubt that the koala is not the Einstein of the animal world, and we now believe that it has sacrificed its brain to energy efficiency. Brains cost a lot to run. Koalas eat gum leaves, which are so toxic that koalas use 20% of their energy just detoxifying this food. This leaves little energy for the brain, and living in the tree tops where there are so few predators means that they can get by with few wits at all.

At first I thought: “Yes, this finally explains my dull intelligence and progressive retardation. Just like that of koalas’, mine body as well shrinks my brain to save energy for detoxification of eucalyptus”. But then I realized that not even Indians can be so reckless to smoke something so toxic so I finally googled what the heck is that leaf used in beedee and discovered that it’s not eucalyptus at all, but leaf from some Indian tree, and this finally always enlightened me on what were all those Indian women climbing the trees doing up there in the tree tops.

Right after I left the koalas to their idiotic lives, it started to rain, and it didn’t stop for next 36 hours or so. I would always stop somewhere, quickly took some photos, got all soaked up in the rain and so and and so on. This night I slept in the van legally, in one of very few (if not the only one) places designated as free public camping on the Great Ocean Road, at Johanna Beach, with big, mean waves smashing onto a wild beach.
The third day it didn’t stop to rain for even a minute, which was quite unfortunate, because I was passing the most spectacular part of the coast. Prime attraction here is “12 Apostles” one of the most iconic and photographed places of this planet. You surely know this place from pictures. If you pick up any book about landscape photography you can be almost sure to find this place there. Well, I will have pictures which totally suck, because the wind and rain were so strong, that it was basically impossible to take pictures without having underwater camera :-)
But despite horrible conditions for photography, the atmosphere was sort of dramatic. With all that wind, cold and rain, and gigantic waves all over the place and knowing that beyond the horizon there’s Antarctica, I had that kind of feeling that William Blight must have had when he was attempting to sail pass Cape Horn in Patagonia, which his crew didn’t like so much and later they mutinied and took over the ship, no other than notoriously famous Bounty. OK, maybe the weather around Cape Horn was a bit worse than here and maybe being on Bounty in such conditions was a bit worse than driving a camper van, but who cares, I felt like William Blight, so I felt like William Blight!
With the weather borrowed from Cape Horn I got so soaked up, that I just gave up the sightseeing for that day and drove to Warrnambool, town near the end of Great Ocean Road, where I managed to get a great deal. For just few dollars I could sleep in my camper van on a private parking lot of one hostel and I could use all its facilities, which was indeed great deal.

In Warrnambool I woke up aboard Bounty in waters around Cape Horn again, but luckily on this day the rain had a few breaks (it must be tiring for clouds to rain all day…) so after all this day turned out pretty good and on my way back towards Melbourne (I drove the same road as from Melbourne) I managed to see all the views which I had to skip the previous day. Plus I saw another local fellow, actually couple of them – emus, and few more kangaroos.

Very strange thing happened in the morning before I left Warrnambool. When I left the parking lot of the hotel I turned on the radio in the car and the only station which was not playing some awful super-new dance hits was a Christian radio, and out of curiosity I listened to songs they were playing. Especially one, which was (unsurprisingly) about how much the singer loves Jesus, struck me and left me contemplating about the fact, that some Christians obviously do not limit themselves to loving Jesus “transcendentally” but push their love to almost physical level, like if they had a real romance with Jesus. I found lyrics of that song almost on verge of blasphemy, sort of gay love between the male singer and Jesus. The song just finished when I came to my first planned stop - a look out over Warrnambool (actually I waited for the song to finish before I turned off the engine, since I wanted to hear the whole song) - and right there at that lookout I found an envelope on the ground, inside a transparent plastic cover, and on the envelope it was written: “Hello :-) Yes, this is just for you!” and below that “Love Jesus and Patrick”. I looked around and picked it up, as it was obviously just for me. I opened it and found a letter inside, I took it and later during the day I read it. The first sentence was: “What is romance with Jesus like?” Fuck me, I was just thinking about these guys who feel like if they have romance with Jesus and here is a letter from one of them, and it’s just for me! I realized that it was my destiny to find this letter, so I kept it and read it when I stopped for a while on one lookout along the way. Since it’s very interesting reading, but I don’t feel like retyping it, I will post it here as photo (breaking my own principle of no photos in this section, but Jesus wanted it this way, so I follow him):

[I suggest you open the picture on a new window to see in in full size, because it is hardly readable here]

Apart from this letter, there were two more paper sheets with some pathetic Jesus-loving poems from this guy Patrick and set of shaped pebble stones, which together added up to: “I love you”.
As he left his full name on the sheets with the poems, after reading the letter I thought I would google him and write him. I kept on thinking what to write him. My first idea was something like: “Dear Patrick, you should really seek out psychiatric help if you think that you and Jesus are having a date on a beach picking up pebbles together and signing the letter as Patrick and Jesus”. But first of all, I did not want to insult his faith and second, and more importantly there would be absolute lack of love in such a letter, which is against my principles (see, my new morality now needs to fight with my brain, that’s tough I tell you…). Then I thought to write him that I respect his love for Jesus, but thinking of having romance with him is basically blasphemy, that Jesus is the son of God and our saver, not someone to date on a beach and that by seeing Jesus behind every single thing on this planet (dollars in your car??? Jesus booking the cinema??? COME ONE!) he oversees the real magic of the world, which is beautiful on its own, that by finding nice pebble on beach he might contemplate about wonders of unimaginable tiny random accidents that lead to existence of that pebble in that very place, and that this mystery of the world is no shorter of seeing Jesus behind everything, while Jesus should rather be his guide, his source of love and compassion. But after spending maybe 30 minutes thinking about what would be proper answer without making fun of his faith (although I seriously think that he should seek out psychiatric help…) I decided to make an experiment. Instead of trying to prove him wrong, I tried to accept his view, instead of counter-offence against his reality I decided to surrender to it. And as I stood there, on the majestic lookout over the wild coastline, where all this thinking was happening, I tried to see Jesus in everything happening around me. I watched the waves and thought about how Jesus beautifully shaped them, each of them, I saw a seagull and I sensed Jesus commanding its wings, I looked at the cliffs and the forest and felt Jesus shaping each single tree and all its leaves, doing all in his divine presence and love for me! And the world was magical... The moment of unity with Jesus and acceptance of his omnipresence lasted for maybe a minute or two, and words can’t describe it.
On the other had it needs to be said, that during my higher unity with Jesus, who for a moment substituted quantum field as basic fiber of the universe I was smoking beedee, and it’s hard to say if I was united with Jesus or with the burning tobacco. In any way, that moment was amazing.
I know you won’t believe me, but since then I can feel into every living creature and even into every single thing. I see a seagull and I can feel as its wings are touching the air, I can see the world through its eyes. I can look at a car and feel its tires resting on the asphalt and I can sense the soul of its engine and its construction, I can feel even into stones and feel them laying on the ground, experience their silent solidness. In other words I can truly feel the unity with the Universe. Hare Krishna.

Another night at Johanna, another night in the camper van with tortillas, beans and corn in hot sauce, sour cream and cheese. Yummy! Despite not being exactly haute cuisine, nothing tastes as good as simple food cooked in your camper van (and nothing smells as bad as beans-propelled farts trapped inside the camper van at night…)

On the last day I drove the remaining part of the road to Melbourne, returned the camper van and boarded bus to Sydney. As I was walking from the car rental office towards a bus stop to take bus to the downtown (and I had to walk more than 2km) and I carried all my baggage, a trucker saw me and overdone with mercy he stopped and gave a ride to the bus stop, and I was not even hitchhiking. Did I say before that Australians are super friendly? Yes, they are! Or maybe just Jesus commands them this way...

Click for photo gallery

     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak